It’s possible to make a difference in your firm’s search engine rankings by following certain SEO best practices, say Jacqueline Madarang, Senior Marketing Technology Manager at Bradley, and Jacob Berschauer, Marketing Technology Manager at Venable.
“People don’t search for someone’s name,” Madarang told the Future Leaders Shared Interest Group on December 11, 2017. “You have to show up for the things people are actually searching for.” Most often, she went on, people search for answers to their questions or solutions to their problems.
Madarang and Berschauer had a number of specific, actionable best practices that attendees could take back to their firms.
- Law firms should produce content that answer people’s questions so that it will show up in a Google search for that question.
- On a more technical side, meta titles and meta descriptions are what search engines display, so they will affect your search engine results. Use header tags in the correct order. Fix broken links. Don’t duplicate content. Include image alt text for ADA compliance. And don’t just use “click here” to introduce a link - that’s bad for SEO and is not ADA compliant.
- Use short, descriptive headlines with less than 70 characters. “People aren’t reading this like a book, they’re skimming content on the web,” Berschauer said. In the same vein, the first sentence is critical to draw people in, and the page should be laid out in an easy-to-read way.
Following these guidelines should make a difference in how well your firm’s content performs in search.
There are several free tools out there to help you with your SEO efforts. Some of those include Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and Moz.com, which all have free keyword tools to help you determine what terms people are using in search.
To audit your firm’s current SEO, you can use sites like Google Analytics, SEO SiteCheckup, which has a free version, and paid services such as SiteImprove.
Madarang shared with attendees how she produces reports to quantify digital marketing efforts. She does a monthly social media report to show numbers of updates, followers, impressions, and the percent change from last month on her firm’s social media accounts. She does quarterly reports on the firm’s blogs and an annual report, which includes everything posted online. To make her reports visually appealing, she uses canva.com, a free tool for graphic design.
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
SEO is a moving target, since Google changes its algorithms frequently. There’s a lot of trial and error, and patience is a necessity.
“We can have an SEO strategy,” Berschauer said. “However, it’s not going to happen over the weekend. We have to monitor and adjust over time.”
When a firm receives negative press online, the only way to move it down the search results is by creating new, positive content. As Madarang said, “once it’s online, it’s online.” Keeping your site updated is also crucial to staying relevant in search results.
Finally, it’s critical to focus your efforts on your firm’s top priorities in their strategic plan, and to allocate your firm’s valuable resources and time toward what you can actually control.
By Rachel Patterson, Digital Marketing Technology Coordinator, Crowell & Moring LLP for the November/December 2017 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter